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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lift Up Your Voices

Blogging went on hiatus these last couple of weeks as I got busy preparing to leave for a conference. I just returned from it late last night.

Attending GC11, the sesquicentennial ~ fancy shmancy word for "150" ~ celebration of the Free Methodist Church in the United States was like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant... impossible to sum up here. Suffice it to say that I was deeply blessed by the respectful dialogue, the prophetic speakers, the earnest and humble leadership, and the warm and genuine people that I met there.

I'm not gonna lie... I'm exhausted. It will take me several days to catch up -- on sleep, on routines, on work, on downloading my heart and mind after such a full time.

One place that was consistently a source of energy in the midst of such a jam-packed schedule was the nightly worship. These were unhindered times where I could sing really loud and cherish the facts that hundreds, if not thousands, of others were doing the same. Normal Sundays of a hymn or two and some more contemporary praise songs are usually enjoyable for me. But once every few years it is really fun to just GO FOR IT and get sweaty in worship! GC11 provided that, and I loved it. Keeps me young, right?!

Intense times like that keep me singing for several days afterward. So this evening I ran into this classic hymn, and immediately found myself humming it loudly. Even better, I spent some time poring over the verses. They are sheer poetry. Please take a few moments and consider their beauty, imagery and deep emotion.

Apparently, this hymn is a paraphrase of an ancient hymn first written by St. Francis in the 13th century. It's hard to believe something that sounds so relevant today could have been written so long ago. Open your eyes a little wider, and tune your ears a bit more thoughtfully to God's creation around you. We are so blessed!

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voices, let us sing:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beams,
thou silver moon that gently gleams,
Refrain (R):
O praise him, O praise him,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice,
ye lights of evening, find a voice, (R)

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for thy Lord to hear,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
that givest man both warmth and light, (R)

Dear mother earth, who day by day
unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise him, Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
let them his glory also show: (R)

And all ye men of tender heart,
forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
praise God and on him cast your care: (R)

And thou, most kind and gentle death,
waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
and Christ our Lord the way hath trod: (R)

Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One: (R)

Words: after Francis of Assisi (1182-1226);
paraphrase of "Canticle of the Sun" by Francis of Assisi.

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